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Abandoned New England
Landscape in the Works of Homer, Frost, Hopper, Wyeth, and Bishop
Priscilla Paton

Revisiting New England

New Hampshire
2003 • 308 pp. 10 plates, 36 figures 6 x 9"
Literary Criticism - American / Art History

$35.00 Hardcover, 978-1-58465-313-4

Discussing poetry and imagery created in times of tension and change, Paton offers convincing, wide-ranging, and lively interpretations of the works of five major American painters and writers... As... [continued in Reviews below]”—CHOICE

An examination of artists and poets and the New England landscape that inspired their work.

Abandoned New England focuses on five modern American visual artists and poets—Winslow Homer, Robert Frost, Edward Hopper, Andrew Wyeth, and Elizabeth Bishop—who portrayed the stark traditional beauty of New England landscape. Their paintings and poetry of abandoned terrain ask: what does a landscape represent and what meaning can it have when nature’s power appears supplanted by urban or technological forces and when the observing eye is no longer emblematic of an enlightened viewer? Abandoned New England pursues these inquiries by discussing shifting and conflicting cultural attitudes toward the wild, rural, and domestic. In her readings of texts and images, Paton explores landscape as the synthesis of the human and nonhuman, as a place simultaneously reflecting and resisting desire, as the setting for social dilemmas, as encounters with otherness and a past both lost and inescapable, and as an integral part of creating and limiting identity.

Paton argues that although “landscape” seems to have lost some of its significance in the modern era, longings for its potential value persist. Landscape iconology, ecocriticism, green cultural studies, cultural geography, and aesthetics provide fresh perspectives on how iconic New England artists have depicted landscape, revised stale conventions, undermined biases surrounding nativism, and recharged our reception of the rustic pastoral. Ultimately, Paton’s analysis of the works of these beloved New England artists demonstrates a postmodern yearning to reinvent nature and reimagine Eden.

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Reviews / Endorsements

“Discussing poetry and imagery created in times of tension and change, Paton offers convincing, wide-ranging, and lively interpretations of the works of five major American painters and writers... As the American scene has become commodified and altered, such interpretations about the meaning of place in the past become ever more significant, in our own experience and in the artist’s creation... By emphasizing how historical recovery of the past can be subjective and distorted, the author demonstrates a self-consciously intelligent approach.”CHOICE

“Paton shows in Abandoned New England that these purportedly empty landscapes remain, for these artists, ‘the location of knowldege, doubt, fulfillment, frustration, security, fear, and alienation and authenticity.’”New England Quarterly

“[A] satisfying interarts study . . . Paton has chosen her material astutely . . . she has written a rich book that will find appreciative readers in many disciplines.”The Journal of American History

Paton discerns in her readings of individual paintings and poems a deeper dimension to works born of the New England countryside, one that goes beyond nostalgia.”Art New England

“[S]ophisticated and interesting . . . Managing both micro and macro detail in her analyses persuasively, Paton blends eco-criticism, gender studies, and postmodern awareness, as she folds Elizabeth Bishop into a broad and brilliant company of diverse American aims.”Elizabeth Bishop Bulletin

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PRISCILLA PATON is Associate Professor of English, Denison University. She has written numerous articles on late-nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature and art and authored a successful children’s book, Howard and the Sitter Surprise (1996). She lives with her husband and family in Granville, Ohio.

Tue, 15 May 2018 12:58:52 -0500